Do you ever feel like you are in trouble with God beyond any hope of redemption?
Redemption, resurrection, and new life are all words associated with how God takes our lives and makes them new in Jesus Christ.
Laodicea and Redemption
During a recent study trip through parts of Turkey and Greece retracing some of the steps of St. Paul, I saw this truth in action at the site of the ancient city of Laodicea. It is one of the three cities in the Lycus Valley of modern-day Turkey, closely bordering two other ancient cities: Collosae and Hierapolis. These three cities are mentioned by Paul in his letter to the Colossians.
Laodicea is also singled out in John’s Revelation as a city who is in danger of being disciplined by the Lord because
“. . . I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth! You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked . . . I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference” (Revelation 3:15-17,19, NLT).
This sounds very serious!
And yet, in the beautiful ruins of Laodicea today, I saw with my own eyes the grace of God in the redemption of the Christians of this ancient city. Buried beneath nearly two thousand years of rubble, archeologists are excavating a church built in the 4th century during the reign of Emperor Constantine. It is a spectacular discovery! One which illustrates vividly the true meaning of the Lord’s redemption and transformation in each and every one of our lives.
If you are anything like me, I often wonder how God can transform me, truly transform me, especially since I often feel a resistance to Him from the pervasive presence of my sin. I also marvel at the ease of making less than loving choices. I get discouraged by my heart that seems to wonder and drift away from the Lord into times of ‘lukewarmness’ or indifference.
The power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that He never stops knocking on the door of our hearts to redeem and restore our relationship and our lives. This is His incredible grace!
Spend some time reading Revelation 3:14-22 as we did during our visit to Laodicea. It’s true, God gives them a scathing rebuke. But He didn’t leave them there. In love, He called them back to Himself. He reached out to them to restore their relationship. As the discovery of the church shows, the Christians in Laodicea did not go the way of the reprimand.
The Christian community did not die out because of their ‘lukewarmness’. Instead, as a community, they chose to return to the Lord and opened the door of their hearts to Him. And they thrived!
The modern-day rebuilding of the ancient church shows us God’s redemption and transformation in their lives. It displays His grace — He never gives up on us. Yes, He may knock on the door of our heart with a sober rebuke. But if we are willing to open the door of our heart and let Him in, as the Laodiceans seemed to do, He will come in and make His home with us (c.f. Rev 3:20). He will redeem our lives and restore our relationship with Him! This is the power of the good news of Jesus Christ. Its message is showcased in us to demonstrate to others around us how the living God transforms and redeems our lives.
Living in the Washington, DC area, Meg’s driving passion is to see men and women mature in Christ through reconciled, healed relationships. She writes a weekly column on practical spirituality called First Thoughts, self-published since 2001. Visit it at www.firstthoughts.net.